Student elections at the Australian National University have been marred by allegations of intimidation and bullying with infighting between Labor factions spilling into the public domain.
The fallout has forced many disillusioned candidates to renounce their affiliations and run as independents, with voting for leadership of the $1.7 million student union closing on Thursday.
Earlier this month, both the left and right members of the university's Labor Party agreed to contest the election on the joint ticket Ready, forming the majority of party's influence on campus.
But the agreement turned sour this week when a member of left faction submitted an article to the student newspaper Woroni explaining the strong influence of ALP members on the ticket.
In a Facebook post visible to the university community, the article's author, Eben Leifer, claimed he was intimidated and bullied by right members who threatened to pull their support unless he retract the story.
"On Sunday, myself and the other members of ANU Left decided we were not willing to put our three candidates at risk of further abuse and decided to recall the article," he said.
"…They promulgated a knee-jerk reaction, bullied and threatened myself and fellow peers, all in an attempt to hide their political affiliations."
Mr Leifer said a number of right members sent messages detailing their disapproval at being publicly linked with the ALP and threatened to expel them from the ticket.
"We're all in the same boat if this goes to print … I'm happy to purge if it means this catastrophic f*** up is avoided," said one candidate.
"If the left … refuse to get this article pulled, there will be no materials provided for left candidates, no preferences, no how to votes and all left candidates will be purged from the ticket," said another.
Woroni editor in chief Jacob Ingram said the fallout was "serious and of legitimate concern" to students.
"Woroni has been given a press statement signed by 42 of 46 members of the Ready ticket declaring that they are disassociating themselves from the actions of 'a few select members' of the Ready ticket," he said.
"It's worth noting that there was already some discontent with Ready due a growing sense of discontent with student groups and student factions at ANU."
Mr Leifer alleged ticket co-ordinator Ben Kremer said "if the article doesn't get pulled, any support for the left on the ticket will be pulled and that's not a good outcome".
Mr Kremer, who joined the ALP aged 16, said the post was not a fair reflection of how he treated people and he said would quit student politics due to the fallout.
"If at any point Eben or any other person has felt intimidated by my behaviour, I apologise wholeheartedly and would appreciate the opportunity to discuss these issues with any person affected," he said.
'I must make it very clear that under no circumstances do I ever condone any form of intimidation or untoward behaviour."
Mr Ingram said many students had been caught up in the fallout and the ramifications were disappointing.
"There are numerous candidates running on this ticket who have been caught up in an issue that they were not involved in and so obviously the ramifications of this are disappointing," he said.
"One would expect that Ready candidates, newly independent or not, will have difficulty in getting elected over the two other tickets," he said.